9 Songs Taylor Swift’s Song Sounds Like
The Debrief: Look What You Made Us Do, Taylor!…
Taylor Swift has released a new song called Look What You Made Me Do and rather than get our teeth into the intense, quadruple-stacked layers of beef which do or don’t comprise the lyrical element of the track, we’re keen on dissecting every single musical influence we can hear on the track.
Not only will it (hopefully!) be entertaining to you, but it may render us true fans, and thus worthy of maybe getting tickets to her gig. Because, as well as announcing her upcoming album, Reputation, out on November 10th, Taylor’s announced a new way of selling tour tickets, which involves vetting true fans via an app in order to filter out the touts and the bots. One way of proving you’re a fan is listening to Taylor's music, another is buying merchandise, which includes snake rings (because Taylor’s a snake, geddit!).
WATCH: Anne Marie Taught Us How To Sing
Anyway, we promised we’d steer clear of the beef. First, here’s Taylor’s song and then lyric video.
Now, without further ado, here’s what Look What You Made Me Do sounds like:
1. All Saints - Booty Call
Taylor’s track opens with a plinky plonk string, just like this 1998 R&B tinged banger from Shaznay and co. The song was about no-strings-attached sex and the video put us right off ever entering a phone box ever again. It was probably influenced by something else but we're still very into it.
2. Peaches - Operate
Peaches’ techno-infused electro pops its mulleted head up in the beat of the verse. You’ll either recognise it because you’re a) a lesbian (Peaches is huge with lesbians, to the point she had a cameo on The L Word) b) fond of Mean Girls. These two things are hardly mutually exclusive (especially to super-fans who know that Samantha Ronson's Built This Way was on the soundtrack way before her and Lindsay Lohan got together). But remember the Halloween party scene, when Lindsay Lohan’s Cady Heron turns up in an actually scary costume and gets lambasted for not being a cute/sexy cat? Well, Operate is playing in the background. Taylor borrows this not just for the beat, but for a bit of her rap/singing too!
3. Lorde - The Louvre
Taylor’s half-sing half-rap lends itself a lot to Lorde, whose recent album Melodrama was produced by Jack Antonoff, who happens to be Lena Dunham’s boyfriend, and, um, the guy who co-produced…Taylor’s new album! The similarity between Taylor's new one and Lorde's The Louvre is audible when you compare Taylor singing, double-time: ‘of the fool’ and ‘isn’t cool’ and when Lorde, on The Louvre sings ‘use your eyes’ and then ‘not my fault’ within the gorgeously-crafted lyric ‘I overthink your p-punctuation use/Not my fault/ just a thing that my mind do’ about 30 seconds in. Lorde's song then drops into the dreamiest 80s pop-meets-witch-house banger. We’re not bitter that Lorde’s album won’t do anywhere near as well as Taylor’s, no, not at all.
4. The Joubert Singers - Stand On The Word (Larry Levan Remix)
The bridge, or pre-chorus, the bit that arrives just after the verse and before the chorus of Look What You Made Me Do has a high-tempo repetition of honky-tonk chords and we’re not saying it is EXACTLY like this gospel track that was given a remix by Paradise Garage aficionado Larry Levan (the genre, named after a music venue in New York, helped paved the way from disco to house music) but there are echoes here. Plus, if we’re going to get all technical and ‘I did up to Grade 5 piano’ then, well, the chord progression is the same. And if this is a reach, let it be, because, well, it’s a lovely song and it stops us arguing over Taylor Swift for a second.
5. Right Said Fred - I’m Too Sexy
This is the real shocker: Taylor’s chorus matches, rhythmically, the 1992 one-hit wonder (ok, ok, the Fairbrass brothers also have Deeply Dippy under their leather studded belts, too). Well, it would be shocking if Taylor didn’t actually have the brothers’ and their co-writer, Rob Manzoli’s names credited as co-writers ! Imagine the phone call from her people to Right Said Fred’s people...and, to make your head fizz a bit, the last gig Right Said Fred did was with, um, All Saints, who are number 1 on this list…
Right Said Fred have let Twitter know of this interpolation, telling their fans:
While some are taking this to mean Taylor ripped off the 26-year-old rhythm, what it really means is…she TOLD them she’d be borrowing it, and they approved, because, well, it can't hurt that every time you listen to Look What You Made Me Do, Right Said Fred get a bit of money!
6. Soul Sonic Force - Planet Rock
We can’t help that the fast-drum-machine vibes (technical term) and the loud ‘ohs’ that drop into the song around two minutes in sound a lot like this pioneering proto-hip hop track. It came out in 1982 and built on work from George Clinton and Kraftwerk. In the time since the song’s release, not only has it inspired producers like Pharrell Williams and Timbaland, and can be heard in G-funk songs like Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre’s Nuthin’ But A G Thang. Also, um, allegations have surfaced that Afrika Bambaata, who led Soul Sonic Force sexually abused young boys in the 1980s. He strongly denies the claims.
7. DJ Mujava - Township Funk
The ‘pew pew pew’ you hear in the bridge at about two minutes in? It’s been everywhere from Chris Brown, Lil Wayne Busta Rhymes’ Diplo-produced Look At Me Now (no thanks!) to Mike WiLL Made-it, Miley Cyrus, Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa’s 23. And it all started in South Africa, where DJ Mujava made this lovely bleepy song, which itself threw back to Laurent Garnier’s Flashback.
8. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
Right about two minutes into the song (the middle 8) Taylor sings, in a mock-phone call, that she’s dead. The concept of a pop star, or at least part of a popstar dying, is something Amy Winehouse used, very visually in the video for Back to Black, where she literally buries her heart in coffin under the headstone ‘R.I.P. The Heart of Amy Winehouse’. As well as the similar concept, the violins in Taylor’s song follow the same basic (and very common) chord structure to Back to Black and the bleepy melody of Taylor’s song (as above) follows a bit of the bluesy melody of the Mark Ronson-produced track. If that wasn’t enough, the cadence by which Taylor says ‘’cause she’s dead’ bears an uncanny resemblance to Amy’s comment to Simon Amstell on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, as below. Maybe this itself was from something? Maybe it wasn’t, the sad thing is we’ll never know.
9. Geri Halliwell - Look At Me
How could we go through a morning of dissecting a twenty-something’s pop music in 2017 without looking to the Spice Girls, who Taylor clearly loves and has previously lip-synced to in this incredibly lo-fi pre-Dubsmash era home-made video? Well, we couldn’t help it, because Geri Halliwell undoubtedly influenced the whole Taylor-as-dead concept. In Look At Me, her first solo single since leaving the band, she buried the Spice Girl Geri and was reborn as nun Geri, vamp Geri and Bride Geri. We’re keen to see what new Taylor Swift emerges from the ashes of dead Taylor Swift. Snake Taylor?
And there you have it. Maybe you disagree with us? Maybe you don’t? Either way, it’s a smart song with a lot of components and if you spot any more, do let us know. As for the lyrics…well, yeah. Let's not suck the fun out of those bad boys!
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